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The Baptism Of Finidi George! –Odegbami

The Baptism Of Finidi George! –Odegbami

By the time you are reading this on Saturday morning, Nigeria would have played the match that would mark Finidi George’s real baptism into the world of Nigerian football.

The long awaited confrontation between between Bafana Bafana of South Africa and the Super Eagles of Nigeria after AFCON 2023 would have been settled on the Uyo Township Stadium ground last night. I hope that the Super eagles won because no explanations would be acceptable for not winning. That is the lot of coaches – the moment they are hired, their records of success and of failure start to count. Finidi George’s cannot be an exception. No excuses for failure are acceptable.

This morning, the outcome of the match would be front-page, setting the foundation for the relationship between Finidi George and the Nigerian sports media. I am still baffled that in this 21st Century, drawing from history, developments in the world, and the place of the African on earth, there could still be many Nigerian sportswriters that think that indigenous coaches lack the capacity to manage the country’s senior national team despite the abysmal showings of the third-rated, unknown, over-rated and over-paid foreign coaches that come and fail to deliver or add any substance to the country’s football.

So, Finidi carries a new banner with responsibility to justify the confidence many of us have reposed in qualified, knowledgeable and experienced Nigerian coaches drawn from amongst ex-internationals (as is the practise everywhere else in the world outside Africa) to take charge of Nigeria’s senior national football team.

Also Read: Let Nigeria Revive NNPC/Shell Cup! –Odegbami

This first match is a litmus test and provides an early indication of how rough or smooth Finidi’s romance with the Super Eagles will be for the next few years.

I sincerely hope that as you are reading this, the Super Eagles have managed to secure a win in Uyo and eased the difficult passage to the 2026 World Cup.

I do not envy Finidi at all. He is sitting on a time bomb even if I firmly believe that he deserves his new position and should be given the chance to garner the needed experience, by winning and losing matches whilst becoming a better coach, and kick-start an era when Nigerians will accept to sink or swim with their indigenous coaches.

For some unfathomable reason, for the first time, on the eve of yesterday’s crucially important football match that will determine Nigeria’s as well as Finidi’s fate, my crystal ball is blank. I saw nothing! I could not foretell how the pendulum of fate would swing.

So, I get into the mode of prayer. I pray that the Eagles win, somehow, anyhow.

I pray that Finidi finds a way, somehow, to defeat the South Africans with a ‘new’ team that should provide an indication of the new Super Eagles under him.

I listened to Finidi in several interviews. He talked glowingly about his time under Jose Paseiro, and gives the man plenty of credit. I hope he is only being diplomatic. My humble advise is that he leaves Paseiro completely alone. He should not make Paseiro’s era and ‘success’ at AFCON the barometer, or model, or foundation for his own team. The truth is that, Paseiro, even during his best moments at AFCON 2023, was never convincing.

The Super Eagles were not brilliant. They were lucky. Their performance left 6 Nigerians dead, from anxiety and tension generated by the hypertension-laden style of the team.

Nigeria was fortunate, riding on the back of with plenty of luck. She survived and got away with it till the final match.

Also Read: A Manager, Not A Coach, For The Super Eagles! –Odegbami

Finidi should approach this assignment with a slate full of his own ideas born by his knowledge, vast experience and deep understanding of Nigerian football and Nigerian footballers. Their effective deployment will make defeating African teams more routine.

The return of Ndidi – a stronger Eagles!

The good news is that Nigeria’s midfield ‘giant’ is back in the ‘new’ team. I believe that his absence was badly felt and could have made a big difference to the Eagles’ final game at AFCON 2023, Wilfred Ndidi, is back.

In Finidi’s ‘new’ team, I believe that Ndidi will close up some of the weakness and porosity in Nigeria’s defence, by providing an additional layer of cover for towering Semiu, a very vulnerable player in the centre of Nigeria’s defense line. Semiu is only very effective in aerial battles.  On the ball he often looks lost, not knowing what to do with it.

In the absence of team leader, William Troost Ekong, Ndidi must rise to the occasion to strengthen the Nigerian defence, link the defence and attack,  and also launch fresh attacks.

Eagles attack…. without Osimhen

Nigeria parades a formidable frontline led by ‘born-again’ Ademola Lookman.

This strength on paper must translate into action on the field of play. In the absence of Osimhen, Finidi may have been presented with the opportunity to adopt a new strategy for scoring goals outside of the long balls hauled upfront to a lone Victor Osimhen scrummaging for a goal.

The front line of Nigeria is made up of players who do best when they have the freedom to express themselves on the ball, dribbling past opponents with speed and panache, and creating goalscoring chances all the time.

Hauling all balls to Victor Osimhen up front did not work well during AFCON and must be changed to allow for front runners run at the South African defence all night, and create ceaseless wahala for them

So, I hope the Eagles won last night.

I also wish the team and Finidi George the best of luck going forward.

Bereavement in the Green Eagles

The past week was littered with sad news.

Two of our colleagues in the Green Eagles of the mid-1970s passed on, days apart.

‘Hard man’ and supreme left-back for Vasco Dagama, Rangers International and the Green Eagles, Harrison Mecha died.

A few days later, stylish player, tall, handsome and elegant mid-field player for Rangers International and the Green Eagles,  Stanley Okoronkwo, embarked on the inevitable journey of no-return.

Both news were numbing, sad reminders again of the briefness of life, and our mortality.

Meanwhile, writing tributes has become more painful and difficult for me with the deaths of an increasing number of players of my generation and even younger.

Also Read: Random Thoughts On Football Associations!  –Odegbami

I am drawn again to dust up my intention many years ago to sue the federal government and demand a welfare policy for retired athletes as well as some  ‘reparation’ for retired athletes who pay with a life of poor health, poverty and early death for the ‘sacrifices’ they made in ignorance whilst representing Nigeria in their youth. We played without fully grasping the health and social implications and consequences, until at the evening of life, we are confronted with the devastating reality.

The statistics are frightening.

Almost two thirds of the football players that represented Nigeria and won the Gold medal at the Second All-Africa Games in 1973, are dead.  Most of them before turning 60!

Almost half of the team that won the Africa Cup of Nations for Nigeria in 1980 are also dead, most before turning 60.

With the recent deaths of Mecha and Stanley, I am reminded that more than half of the players that won the Africa Cup Winners Cup with Rangers International FC in 1977 have passed on. And that those still alive are mostly suffering the pain of debilitating arthritis, and other ailments directly related to health conditions that derived from their playing football without proper guidance and information by experts in the field, to enable them be prepared for the consequences in the evening of their lives. Something must be done.

Death is turn-by-turn, and inevitable.

Yet, we mourn the exit of Harrison Mecha and Stanley Okoronkwo from the earthly theatre. I wish them peace on their journey back home to Our Creator.


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  • Sportradio88.0 fm 1 week ago

    How I wish the game on against Benin republic wil be played in Cotonou. And no Abidjan. All our molue could have been fueled to transit to Cotonou with 99 standing and 1 sitting driver to go and crowd the stadium to get the 3 point . With guys that started from the bench against s A . And those that could not up their game left in Uyo to watch from hotel.no coach anywhere in the world wil tolerate any player that wil always easily lose or pass the ball to his opponent.the vway a guy is doing in the eagles middle line .

    • Sportradio88.0 fm 1 week ago

      In 1989 westhorf lost his first game against garbon. That was wat cost the eagles not to qualify for Italian 90 .
      And westerhof woke up to camp the eagles with friendly games with Europe clubs in Holland to expose his teams weakness.
      Before getting a better team set up.
      Can finidi be given the opportunity to camp for two weeks in Europe. Even if it is morroco .so that dey can gel .
      U can imagine a student going to write jamb examination and after he was to start he started thinking of where to start . Whereas the good student would already have plans on where to get his good marks so that d difficult question wil be left for the later minutes . Instead of getting stuck with the hard questions during the hours allowed and after submitting he went out of the exam hall to find out that he hadn’t pick the answer to the cheap questions ..eagles are wasting their points now .I hope dey wil wake up before fifa blows the whistle so that dey wil not begin to look for other continent for play off . Because the cut off point could be higher than wat dey expect from fifa

  • Hmmm. From the Mali friendly I saw right away that we will have a problem. Loads of spaces to operate by the opponent. Happened again against South Africa. The Coaching is poor. When a team begins to rely on individual play..you know something is wrong. I cannot judge but I see very weak man management skills from the coach. Great player but a struggling coach. The signs are not good. All in the name of attacking football we have lost basic defending skills. Players turning over the ball to opponents countless times is a sign of a team without discipline or awe of the coach. Goodluck Finidi. Typically we keep hoping for the best. We should stop this indigenous thing. Get a good coach…white or black. After all we have jettisoned anthem composed by our own to go for Oyinbo composed one.

  • Dr. Drey 1 week ago

    Awon special advisers isonu….LMAOoo

    First and foremost Even a third-rated, unknown, over-rated and over-paid foreign coach wouldn not start Onuachu over Boniface and Moffi….LMAOoo

    CSN should please take down this article for the sake of the integrity of their website

    The fact that we don’t want third-rated, unknown, over-rated and over-paid foreign coaches does not mean that we should be employing fake, incompetent and daft coaches for crucial projects like World Cup qualification.

    A third-rated, unknown, over-rated and over-paid Rohr qualified us for the last world cup we attended with a far younger, less experienced, less talented team that handnt qualified for back to back afcons under so called local guadiolas…LMAOoo

  • JimmyBall 1 week ago

    @Dr.Drey… be real with your jibes on Finidi. South Africa is our weightclass and with all honesty… everyone knows that a game against South Africa is always going to be tricky and difficult.

    We met them in AFCON and they outplayed us with a Portuguese in charge, we jumped over them with spotkicks. The coach of a team cannot go on field and put the ball in the net. Peseiro drew Lesotho at home, went away to Zimbabwe and drew again putting us in this tight position.

    Where I have a problem with Finidi is his continuous loyalty to underperfomring players. Iheanacho is out of relevance right now because he is lazy naturally and match rusty. You can talk about Onuachu all-day but he had a positive game where he got no service at all in the first half as Nigeria could not conjure-up anything.

    Chukwueze was put through and he characteristically wasted his chance with keeper to beat. Moffi had a one on one in dying moments and chose the spectacular to roundup the experienced South African goalie instead of a quick placement. Why don’t you insult Moffi for that?

    Alex Iwobi though having an above average second half performance clearly showed that he is misplacing priorities releasing music mistapes when he should actually be practising how to shoot at goal as a midfielder… this is a guy clearly talented but lacking professional football focus.

    The only issue I had with Finidi yesterday was allowing Onuachu played up to 80mins, in at most 65minutes, his day’s job was done and should have been replaced but why Finidi kept a lazy Iheanacho with zero impact in the game and Onuachu that long yesterday was baffling. Onuachu had a good game as he eveb ventured into the midfield several times to link play.

    Most of the players had stayed for over two weeks without active football since leagues ended and it showed in their games. Again I don’t know why Finidi will have the Sodiq guy for Leftback with all we were told about him and chose to not play him converting a rightback Osayi Samuel to leftback? Osayi Samuel also should have scored a close-ranger.

    Overall drawing that game was better than losing as SA is a good team, we must stop arrogance and give them their props for how good a team they are. I feel Ndidi also has a subpar game… he misplaced passes yesterday and did not show he deserves to lead that team.

    I am still unimpressed with chukwueze and feel Tella if he had not shunned the matches would have offerer more than Chukwueze whose game is always so predictable. People will want to talk about Awoniyi but he has been injured for long this season and even lost his starting berth at Club towards season’s end.

    We just need more players who are actually effective in goals and overall team work. It is my opinion that Super Eagles right flank needs Otele and Tella, Chukwueze will never give any desired result playing from the right flank and Iheanacho is useless there.

    I would have loved to see Victor Boniface yesterday but only Finidi knows why he never gave him minutes talk more of starting him… the talk about Finidi being with the team over two years was meaningless yesterday playing dudes out of position. Finid needs to make better decisions and play players where they are best-suited and useful.

    • Josh 3 days ago

      After you wrote all these rubbish, how do you feel later when Benin floor us?

      You and oga Segun na the same, empty head

  • Dr. Drey 1 week ago

    “…Dr.Drey… be real with your jibes on Finidi…” LMAoooo

    So what have you said about Finidi now that is different or ‘more real’ from what I’ve said about him now……LMAOOo

    Its like mentioning my name in your comments makes you trend more or gives you a kinkier feeling than multiple org***s.

    • JimmyBall 1 week ago

      @Dr.Drey… you attacked Finidi George directly calling him clueless and African Guardiola…you also said he is incompetent. Those words are not fair to his person because I never saw you insult Peseiro even though he drew two winnable matches.

      • You were obviously not fair to Chukwueze@Jimmy. Chukwueze came in and livened up that right flank yesterday. He hit the S.A Cross bar, he gave Moffi that pass for a one-on-one with the S.A keeper. Chukwueze gave nice passes around the 18yrd yesterday.

        Jimmy can you clearly state what Chukwueze didn’t do right within the few minutes he played yesterday and tell me what your Tella (who pulled out of the team with reasons best known to him) would have done differently?

        So you didn’t see Lookman, Iwobi, Osayi, etc shooting away balls?

        Oga, Chukwueze was electric yesterday. Besides, go check the records of Chukwueze against South Africa team since 2019 and come tell us how many goals and assist he has scored against them. Yeye dey smell!

      • Dr. Drey 1 week ago

        Hahahahaha….you never saw me insult Peserio after drawing those two macthes….CSN does not lie. CSN does not delete posts, Go back and read CSN threads as at that time and stop saying things you don’t know jack about.

        You accuse me of calling finidi clueless and incompetent….pls what does your comment above say about infere about him….LMAOoo…I can see they are all full of praise and commendations for the “smart allec and highly competent” coach Finidi is.

        Like I said b4, its like mentioning my name in your comments makes give you estatic feelings of multiple flavours.

  • Josh 6 days ago

    Aftet all these your rubbish and unwanted English, calling the oyinbo coaches, a total failure and disgrace, how did your Finidi the baptist do?

    All you know is to be writing nonsense upandan, as if it’s English we will eat, you and your fellow foreign coach haters will be swallowing your pride with water instead of soup now, you all push for an indigenous coach and now the football loving Nigerians are sad and añgry, awon Oponu oshi

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